Is online volunteering the beginning of something new?

  • Online communication is something many of us come across in our everyday lives, but how can we use this communication to help others? Writing On Laptop

    Non-profit organisation Nabuur has been created to help the development of impoverished communities by enabling people from other countries to help community members through their website.  Based in Giethoorn, Netherlands, Nabuur has 41254 neighbours, 92 villages, 10 groups and 1600 ways people can help.

    In Dutch Nabuur contains the meaning "neighbour" and the system works around the concept of a ‘village'. Users can register on the site and state the issues they face. Once the issue has been stated the community will be called a village and a Nabuur trained volunteer worker will be appointed for the village's webpage.  After this other users can become ‘virtual neighbours' for the village and will look for possible ideas that can help with the problems raised by the village. If project funding is needed then the local community will do this with the help from virtual neighbours.

    This type of online help has also been seen in other organisations, such as the United Nations Volunteers Programme which connects developing organisations with volunteers to collaborate online for peace and development projects.

    Based in Germany the programme says that since the year 2000 more than 55,000 online volunteers have supported many UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and governments around the world.

    "Organisations that benefited from online volunteers' support indicated that volunteers contributed to enable disadvantaged groups and communities to have wider access to services and to the inclusion and participation of stakeholders, in particular the disadvantaged," a spokesperson said.

    "In 2012, 92% of organisations and online volunteers who used UNV Online Volunteering service rated their satisfaction with their online volunteering collaboration as good or excellent," they said.

    Do you think online volunteering is something that could become more widespread?

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